Review: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Kiss
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: March 24th 2016
Book Length: 484
Publisher: Bloomsbury, thank you so much for my copy <3
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?


The Winner’s Trilogy is without a doubt one of my favourite series ever, from its captivating writing, the incredible characters and those crafty plot twists, Rutkoski has proven with each new release that she can still leave us in a complete state of shock…. The same can definitely be said for The Winner’s Kiss; my dear friends, you may want to brace yourselves.

            After the heart-breaking ending of The Winner’s Crime, Kestrel is in a barbaric work camp where she is drugged in order to work tirelessly long hours under the watch of ruthless guards. Arin knows nothing of Kestrel’s predicament; he’s too busy preparing his people for a War with Valoria. Arin will not lose his country without a fight and with his new alliance with Dacra and the god of Death on his side, he will be unstoppable.

Kestrel will break your heart in this book; she has been a force to be reckoned with through this series, her clever wits and strategic mind have been her greatest weapons but I feel you don’t really know a character until you’ve witnessed them at their highs and lows--- let me tell you, Kestrel hits rock bottom but I am in awe of her strength and ability to get back up. Kestrel is truly a hero and a fantastic heroine.
“She'd betrayed her country because she'd believed it was the right thing to do. Yet would she have done this, if not for Arin?
He knew none of it. Had never asked for it. Kestrel had made her own choices.
It was unfair to blame him.
But she wanted to.”
            Arin’s greatest enemy is himself, he continues to doubt himself and any decision he makes, after his last meeting with Kestrel he’s always looking for a hidden meaning in people’s action and words. Arin struggles trying to lead a war where he is outgunned and outnumbered but he is able to be just a devious as Kestrel and I loved seeing his brilliant mind at work.

The romance, oh you guys!!!! The Winner’s KISS is a befitting title. Kestrel and Arin are one of my top ships and I have wanted to smush them together since the beginning. Their romance is so slow and it’s been full of disaster and complications but they are perfect together and they are so deserving of each other. Fellow shippers and fangirls will be very, very, very happy, eeeeekkk!
“He changed us both." She seemed to struggle for words. "I think of you, all that you lost, who you were, what you were forced to be, and might have been, and I—I have become this, this person, unable to—"
She shut her mouth.

"Kestrel," he said softly, "I love this person.”
            The action never stops, from the very beginning you can feel the high stakes of this dangerous game Arin and Kestrel play but my OTP plays to win so be prepared for some epic and sometimes intense scenes that will have you holding your breath.
"Did you have to bring the tiger?”

“I kept him hungry during the journey here, just for you,” Roshar said. “Go give him a nice snuggle, won’t you? He’s come all this way to see you. The least you could do is give him one of your arms to eat. Too much? What about a hand? At least some fingers. Arin, where’s your hospitality?”

Arin, laughing, embraced his friend.”
I’ve got to say that I have a new favourite pairing within this series: Arin and Roshar. Oh my god, the relationship between these two it’s utterly hilarious and fantastic, I found myself excited for their next interaction. It’s filled with friendly banter, backhanded compliments and lots and lots of sass and sarcasm. Roshar became a main character in this book; he has in own struggles within his kingdom and family, trying to figure out where his own alliances lie but the friendship with him and Arin was extremely heartwarming, I felt so spoiled for all his page time. Can we please have book for Roshar? Please Rutkoksi, I am begging you!

            The Winner’s Kiss is the best book of the series and best way to end a trilogy, it was completely perfect, and faultless! Well, Roshar’s story would be nice. I can’t even put into words how sad I am to see this beautiful series come to an end, I am in no way ready to say goodbye to Arin and Kestrel and I’m also in no way ready to be parted with Rutkoski’s magical writing, I am praying to all of Arin’s Gods for her to have some crafty series up her sleeves. The Winner’s Kiss will make you cry, laugh, cry some more, warm your heart and cry some more, it’s an extraordinary ending and I am so thankful to have read this early but for also picking this up in the first place. It’s been one hell of a ride but I couldn’t have asked for more, now go read it and enjoy!!

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  1. I can't even begin to comprehend the emotions this book can produce! I'm bracing myself for when I read it. I've been shipping Kestrel and Arin like crazy from the first book, and I'm glad that they'll finally get some time to themselves! :D
    Spectacular review as always, Cody!

    1. Oh Erika, I'm honestly overwhelmed. I still am after reading, it was quite the rollercoaster. Kestrel and Arin are a fantastic ship aren't they? I adore them so much :D You'll have to let me know when you're going to read it, I must be prepared to cheerlead you on :P Thank you <3

  2. I just keep reading reviews for books that are sounds so good. Why haven't I read them yet? Craziness. Nice review!

    1. WHAT? You haven't read them... gurrrrrl grab yourself a copy, take a seat and prepared to have your mind blown ;)

  3. I'm so, so excited to read this!! I'm so glad you liked it; it sucks when the last book in a series doesn't live up to expectations. Although, I don't think I'm ready to see this series come to an end! In any case, I'll definitely be picking up a copy as soon as it's released! Lovely review :)

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. And then comes the awkward moment when I realize I've been looking at the wrong calendar and it already came out... *runs to the library*

    2. Laura you will LOVE it! Seriously, Rutkoski has outdone herself, it's everything you could ask for, I'm so excited for you to read it :D YES YOU RUN THAT LIBRARY - demand a copy and run home and hibernate until you've finished it :P Enjoy!!!


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